I just recently had the pleasure of playing Final Fantasy XV a few months ago during my Year of Final Fantasy celebration, so I was very excited to see what kind of enhancements the PC version of the game would get.
With the release of Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition for consoles recently, PC owners finally got their chance to play Final Fantasy XV with the Windows Edition. It’s got the same content as the Royal Edition and costs the same price of $49.99. You can buy the Windows Edition on Steam, Origin, and the Windows 10 Store. It’s worth noting that the version on the Windows 10 Store is cross-play with the Xbox One version of Final Fantasy XV.
However, we know why you’re here! Enough with the pricing model, it’s time to see how the port holds up. Let’s dive into Eos and see what’s in store!
Test 1: Desktop Setup
The first 6 hours of the game, I attempted the game on my desktop. This is what I’m working with:
That’s a lot to take in, so here’s the important stuff: I’m using an Intel i7-6700k at base clock speed, an EVGA GTX 1070 8GB, and 16GB of DDR4 RAM. Also, I’m playing the Windows Edition on my desktop using a 3TB HDD that is almost full, which can impact performance if it’s critically low. However, I have at least 300GB of space still, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
I started the game at 1080p, playing at 120fps with the game defaulting to the High graphics setting and none of the Nvidia features enabled. In the tutorial, this held pretty steady! However, that shouldn’t be a surprise, given the tutorial area is one small, enclosed room.
After that, the game started. ... I said, the game started. What is taking so long? Oh, a 1 minute, 42 second initial load time upon starting the game each time is happening. I was hoping with the PC version would have better load times, but unfortunately not. That being said, I didn’t try installing the game to my SSD. I’m sure the load times are faster there, but I can’t say for certain yet.
Once I got into the game, however, it was apparent with my current settings that 120fps was not going to be the average framerate. I was constantly dropping frames, sometimes as low as 90fps. Sure, that’s still much higher than 60fps and still looks fantastically smooth, but I prefer consistency over fluctuation.
I went to go change this option and was pleasantly surprised to see a giant suite of graphical options for the player. Square Enix clearly wanted Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition to be customizable from lower to higher-end hardware and made sure that you can tailor the experience exactly how you want. I mean, the game offers native support up to 8k resolution for goodness’ sake! Talk about forward-thinking!
Once I did drop the framerate cap to 60fps, everything ran pretty smoothly … mostly. There were really only two points where I experienced frame drops: for a few seconds whenever I parked the car, specifically at gas stations or parking lots while I was getting out of the car, and when I was taking screenshots. I’m not sure why it caused frame drops when parking at those areas, but at least I can surmise the screenshots.
When switching between controller and keyboard, Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition automatically updates all icons to keyboard icons. When it detects a button press or movement on the controller, it updates the icons again. I haven’t noticed the hard stutter from this in other games (Resident Evil 5 is one I played recently again and tried this with no issue), but it only lasts for about a second. If you’re not taking many screenshots, then you won’t encounter this one at all.
What you may encounter, however, is at least one strange instance of weird lighting. Early in Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition, I visited the beachside resort area of Galdin Quay. I was doing a sidequest that required me to talk to the chef in the restaurant area. I visited during the late afternoon transition to nighttime and talked to the chef during that time, and uh … this happened:
I think this has to do with the combination of low lighting from the setting sun, the lack of indoor lighting (as the game hasn’t recognized it as nighttime yet) and the blood of the innocent bequeathed unto our daemon lord Noctis Lucis Caelum. But most likely the first two. Either way, it was super weird but it cleared up quickly as soon as the lights turned on inside. Just keep it in mind!
Aside from that, the game feels great to play. Loading times are nowhere near as bad as the initial load when starting your save file upon startup. The game is smooth and feels great to play. It’s very responsive, and I never felt “cheated” by bad controls. If I made a mistake, it absolutely felt like my fault. I didn’t test keyboard support, but at the very least I know that all the key bindings are customizable. Play however you like!
What did not feel great was the time my game crashed. Thankfully, the auto-save system regularly saves so I didn’t lose more than ten minutes of progress, but I shouldn’t need to worry about manually saving all the time. I was doing some monster hunts at night near an outpost, driving manually. I tried backing up and turning the camera to see behind me when the game froze, then messed up so badly that it took me out of fullscreen before crashing. That was very weird, to say the least. Thankfully, this only happened once, but that it even happened at all is disappointing.
That’s really all I have to say about this first test of Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but more often than not it was great. 60fps is a perfectly feasible target for a majority of the time!
Now, I decided to try this on my gaming laptop as well, since I was going to my friend’s apartment for a few days anyway. However, it’s a good thing I checked the Steam listing for Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition because if I hadn’t I would’ve been very annoyed. Why? Well, as it turns out, Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition doesn’t have cloud saves so I had to manually copy over a save to my OneDrive, that way I can use it on here.
... Until a day after I wrote that. On a whim, I checked again today to ensure I wasn't crazy. As it turns out, Square Enix just recently enabled cloud saves for save data, which saved me from a major headache. Why it wasn't enabled day one is anybody's guess, and I know it wasn't since I had checked on purpose before having to transfer my save data via OneDrive. There was no Steam Cloud icon, and when I booted the game on my laptop it had no save data from my desktop version. Now, however, that happy little cloud is there, giving me plenty of reassurance. Thankfully, I won't have to keep juggling my save data between both platforms! However ... I will be saving a backup on my OneDrive from time to time. You know, just in case.
Test 2: Gaming Laptop
For this test, I booted up Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition on my Asus GL502VMK. Here are my specs:
Like the desktop above, here’s the simplified version: My laptop is running an Intel i7-7700HQ (about 30% less effective than the CPU in my desktop), a Nvidia GTX 1060 3GB model, and 12GB of DDR4 RAM. My goal is going to be 1080p/60fps, so let’s see how we do!
Uhh, nevermind, someone grab the fire extinguisher! So yeah, those CPU temps are nothing to sneeze at. All four cores were running from 91ºC to 96ºC after a whopping 15 minutes of use. I didn’t realize how hot my laptop was running until I heard the fan whirring, felt the table my laptop was on and immediately had to pull my fingers away from the heat. Clearly, I must’ve been working the poor thing to the bone.
But I wasn’t. I was only using Average settings, with all extra Nvidia features turned off, targeting 60fps. For what it’s worth, it was hitting that target more or less the whole time. However, those are dangerously high temperatures for any setup, so I turned off the game and watched the temperature immediately drop to normal levels.
Okay, so 1080p/60fps with Average settings is out of the question if you want your computer to last for more than a half-hour before melting to the table. So, I tried it at low setting. Not happening. Even 720p/60fps at Low settings just was not happening with this laptop. So, I decided to cap the game at 30fps, which is perfectly playable so long as it remains stable.
As it turns out, 1080p/30fps at Average settings is the sweet spot for this particular laptop. To be fair, that 30fps never wavered during gameplay once. The only time it dropped was, again, when parking the car at a parking stop. Once you exit the vehicle, 30fps is the rock-solid norm.
Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition is a very heavy CPU-heavy game. 30fps isn’t a hard target to hit, but going to 60 or above requires a hefty processor. Other than that, the game looks great. It plays great, and aside from a few minor hiccups and other strange lighting quirks once in a while, it’s generally a smooth ri--
This edition of Port Report uses a review copy of Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition provided by the developer.